Tyler Nicely

TWICE AS NICE: Nicely, Hoffman Find Victory Lane in Twin-20 DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified Features at Volusia

Strickler bags podium finish out of Last Chance Showdown after hospital visit just hours before

A grand total of 94 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds packed Volusia Speedway Park’s pit area Wednesday for night #2 of competition at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals, prompting a format change that called for two separate, 20-lap Features before the night was out.

Volusia’s reigning Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took advantage of another slick and smooth racing surface to grab the win in the first Feature, while the five-time and defending DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Nick Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, did the same to score the victory in Feature #2.

Feature #1 – Tyler Nicely

Tyler Nicely seems to be picking up right where he left off at Volusia last November.

His then-brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro chassis powered him to his first career victory in the track’s marquee event, the Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial, in November of last year. Less than three months have passed and he’s already back in Victory Lane. This time, making the pass for the lead on Lucas Lee and holding off another star-studded cast of competitors for his fourth career win in the event.

“All Speedweeks I’ve been trying to get this win; I’m glad it’s on this stage at Volusia,” Nicely said. “It’s always nice to win it with a bunch of cars, standing on this stage and getting a gator.”

Nicely’s been in action since the opening round of the Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park two weeks ago and hadn’t been able to find Victory Lane through those five starts plus another last weekend at North Florida Speedway. But after a third-place finish in Tuesday night’s opener, Nicely cashed out with his momentum and advanced two spots higher to collect the $1,000 victory Wednesday night.

Nicely started on the outside of the front row and immediately went to work on polesitter Lucas Lee, catching him in open track and making the pass to his inside on Lap 5.

From there on out, it Nicely’s race to lose. Nobody seemed to have anything for the race leader by the end of 20 circuits as he crossed to collect the checkers. However, if there had been just one more caution later in the race, he may have had a familiar foe knocking on his door.

Jim DenHamer Photo

Kyle Strickler, of Mooresville, NC, may have gone though one of the most bizarre, painful, yet most successful runs to the front in DIRTcar Nationals history Wednesday night.

Earlier in the evening, Strickler was taken in an ambulance to a nearby hospital after severely cutting his left middle finger in the pit area while operating the lift his team uses to raise their car up.

“When I was in the ambulance after almost cutting my finger off, they told me, ‘it’s a hard no on you racing tonight,’ because that was the first question I asked them,” Strickler said. “We ended up going to the hospital, getting it stitched up and making it back here in time.”

Indeed, he did get back to the track on time. But only to tag the tail of Last Chance Showdown #1, where he snagged the final transfer spot into the first Feature. This set him up for a 23rd-place starting spot in that event, where he drove all the way back to finish third, making for what will surely be one of the most memorable nights of his career.

Feature (20 Laps) 1. 25-Tyler Nicely [3]; 2. 5S-Curt Spalding [4]; 3. 8S-Kyle Strickler [23]; 4. OOEH-Steve Arpin [8]; 5. 25W-Allen Weisser [14]; 6. 12L-Lucas Lee [2]; 7. 21A-Nick Allen [1]; 8. 6A-Ryan Ayers [11]; 9. 88-Matt Crafton [15]; 10. 36-Kenny Wallace [6]; 11. 80-Rich Dawson [5]; 12. 3L-Jeff Leka [7]; 13. 7D-Brad DeYoung [17]; 14. 9-Ken Schrader [21]; 15. 2A-Matt Altiers [20]; 16. 7T-Drake Troutman [9]; 17. 32-Chad Roush [24]; 18. 23-Ryan Cripe [16]; 19. 114-Clayton Bryant [19]; 20. K19-Will Krup [13]; 21. A1-Gary Bentley [22]; 22. Z1-Zac Oedewaldt [18]; 23. 8A-Austin Holcombe [12]; 24. 21H-Clay Harris [10] Hard Charger: 8S-Kyle Strickler[+20]

Feature #2 – Nick Hoffman

Nick Hoffman has often preferred the slicker, slower racing surfaces at the big tracks like Volusia. That certainly showed again Wednesday night, as he took full advantage of it in collecting his 19th career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win.

Compared to the Feature event previous, Hoffman wasted even less time in moving to the front, making the pass on polesitter David Stremme on Lap 3. From there on out, nobody had anything for the two-time and defending UMP Modified national points champion as he crossed the stripe for the win.

He makes it look so simple on the DIRTVision cameras, but sometimes, much of the battle is won before the race even starts in the pit area. Like Tuesday night, it came down to a tire selection to help Hoffman pick up the win.

Jim DenHamer Photo

“I knew it was probably gonna latch-up there in the second Feature, so I went with the hard tire again tonight,” Hoffman said. “Once it started to latch-up, I got really tight and just couldn’t maneuver quite like I needed to.”

Hoffman’s Elite Chassis had yet another good showing with himself and Justin Allgaier finishing 1st and 3rd, respectively.

“I know every nook and cranny on that racecar, so that really helps. Just running my own chassis for the last eight years; we’ve got a really good balance, obviously, at this place. It just suits my style, momentum racing, and when it gets dead slick like this, it’s really where I’m the best,” Hoffman said.

The DIRTcar UMP Modified action continues Thursday night from Volusia Speedway Park’s 50th DIRTcar Nationals with Round #3 of racing. Catch all the action live on DIRTVision!

Feature (20 Laps) 1. 2-Nick Hoffman [2]; 2. 96M-Mike McKinney [4]; 3. 7-Justin Allgaier [6]; 4. 35-David Stremme [1]; 5. 12H-Jason Hughes [3]; 6. 11J-Justin Haley [7]; 7. 49-Brian Ruhlman [9]; 8. 18L-Michael Long [5]; 9. 51-Brandon Green [14]; 10. 95-Michael Altobelli [8]; 11. 67-Garret Stewart [11]; 12. 11H-Spencer Hughes [12]; 13. 31G-Stephen Pedulla [17]; 14. T9-Ryan Thomas [21]; 15. O5-Dave Wietholder [19]; 16. 17X-Richard Michael [13]; 17. 77-Ray Bollinger [10]; 18. 4T-Zeke McKenzie [15]; 19. 4R-Ricky Thornton [24]; 20. 25P-Robert Poole [18]; 21. 45-Johnny Broking [22]; 22. 17T-Tyler Evans [16]; 23. 15-Joey Miller [23]; 24. 22K-Dale Kelley [20] Hard Charger: T9-Ryan Thomas[+7]

Qualifying Event Results

Qualifying Flight-A 1. 21A-Nick Allen, 18.212; 2. 25-Tyler Nicely, 18.444; 3. 80-Rich Dawson, 18.466; 4. 6A-Ryan Ayers, 18.676; 5. K19-Will Krup, 18.789; 6. 3L-Jeff Leka, 18.819; 7. 7T-Drake Troutman, 18.861; 8. 88-Matt Crafton, 18.969; 9. 7D-Brad DeYoung, 18.984; 10. 114-Clayton Bryant, 19.022; 11. 44-KC Burdette, 19.095; 12. 27G-Jason Garver, 19.15; 13. 9-Ken Schrader, 19.213; 14. 6-Ryan Fowler, 19.252; 15. 72-Todd Neiheiser, 19.369; 16. 21-Taylor Cook, 19.555; 17. M41-Steve Maisel, 19.649; 18. 24-Travis Dickson, 19.692; 19. 6B-Dave Baldwin, 19.81; 20. 27-Tom Wakefield, 19.872; 21. 8-David Pinkerton, 20.064; 22. 33-Ken Mihalik, 20.359; DNS. 8S-Kyle Strickler, NT; DQ. 21S-Kenny Shaw, 19.666

Qualifying Flight-B 1. 5S-Curt Spalding, 18.504; 2. 12L-Lucas Lee, 18.553; 3. 36-Kenny Wallace, 18.665; 4. OOEH-Steve Arpin, 18.716; 5. 21H-Clay Harris, 18.892; 6. 8A-Austin Holcombe, 18.919; 7. 176-Scotty Owens, 19.111; 8. 23-Ryan Cripe, 19.147; 9. 32-Chad Roush, 19.198; 10. A1-Gary Bentley, 19.313; 11. 11N-Gene Nicholas, 19.403; 12. 2A-Matt Altiers, 19.441; 13. Z1-Zac Oedewaldt, 19.443; 14. 9PG-Percy Gendreau, 19.548; 15. 25W-Allen Weisser, 19.703; 16. 57-Mark Grosvenor, 19.707; 17. 62E-Kim Edington, 19.856; 18. O1-Earnie Woodard, 20.057; 19. 11M-Tyler Morehouse, 20.087; 20. 22J-John Baker, 20.222; 21. 89W-Rick Weitekamp, 20.861; 22. 12M-David Moheng, 21.049; DQ. 47-Collin Thirlby, 19.63

Qualifying Flight-C 1. 2-Nick Hoffman, 18.463; 2. 35-David Stremme, 18.48; 3. 49-Brian Ruhlman, 18.586; 4. 15-Joey Miller, 18.629; 5. 31G-Stephen Pedulla, 18.68; 6. 4T-Zeke McKenzie, 18.767; 7. 17X-Richard Michael, 18.789; 8. 67-Garret Stewart, 18.92; 9. 18L-Michael Long, 18.942; 10. 11J-Justin Haley, 18.979; 11. 2J-Troy Johnson, 19.107; 12. 99-Hunt Gossum, 19.152; 13. 11-Jesse Rupe, 19.305; 14. O5-Dave Wietholder, 19.309; 15. T9-Ryan Thomas, 19.539; 16. 463-Daniel Sanchez, 19.574; 17. 74-Mike Franklin, 19.579; 18. 15B-Dave Baker, 19.604; 19. 83-Brianna Robinson, 19.662; 20. 60-Shannon Fisk, 19.709; 21. 81-Steve Axtell, 19.777; 22. O2-Chris Cook, 19.981; 23. 20-Tyler Hendrix, 20.371; 24. 59-Doug Stine, 20.852

Qualifying Flight-D 1. 12H-Jason Hughes, 18.318; 2. 96M-Mike McKinney, 18.443; 3. 51-Brandon Green, 18.783; 4. 11H-Spencer Hughes, 18.898; 5. 7-Justin Allgaier, 18.9; 6. 45-Johnny Broking, 18.907; 7. 77-Ray Bollinger, 18.908; 8. 17T-Tyler Evans, 18.934; 9. 97-Mitch Thomas, 19.143; 10. 88S-Chris Smith, 19.205; 11. 45H-Kyle Hammer, 19.303; 12. 95-Michael Altobelli, 19.313; 13. 25P-Robert Poole, 19.411; 14. 22K-Dale Kelley, 19.549; 15. 22T-Tony Anderson, 19.579; 16. 4R-Ricky Thornton, 19.769; 17. 12-John McClure, 19.805; 18. 21D-Danny Schwartz, 19.886; 19. 88B-Chris Bolyard, 20.252; 20. 7+7-Jeff Solinger, 20.439; 21. 11Z-Rob Pitcher, 21.008; 22. 27C-Billy Cevaal, 21.447; 23. 27S-Paul Schloss, 22.292

Heat #1 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 21A-Nick Allen [1]; 2. 80-Rich Dawson [2]; 3. 7T-Drake Troutman [4]; 4. K19-Will Krup [3]; 5. 7D-Brad DeYoung [5]; 6. 9-Ken Schrader [7]; 7. M41-Steve Maisel [9]; 8. 6B-Dave Baldwin [10]; 9. 44-KC Burdette [6]; 10. 72-Todd Neiheiser [8]; 11. 8-David Pinkerton [11]; 12. 8S-Kyle Strickler [12]

Heat #2 – Flight (A) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 25-Tyler Nicely [1]; 2. 3L-Jeff Leka [3]; 3. 6A-Ryan Ayers [2]; 4. 88-Matt Crafton [4]; 5. 114-Clayton Bryant [5]; 6. 21-Taylor Cook [8]; 7. 6-Ryan Fowler [7]; 8. 27G-Jason Garver [6]; 9. 24-Travis Dickson [9]; 10. 27-Tom Wakefield [10]; 11. 33-Ken Mihalik [11]; 12. 21S-Kenny Shaw [12]

Heat #3 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 5S-Curt Spalding [1]; 2. 36-Kenny Wallace [2]; 3. 21H-Clay Harris [3]; 4. 25W-Allen Weisser [8]; 5. Z1-Zac Oedewaldt [7]; 6. 11N-Gene Nicholas [6]; 7. 62E-Kim Edington [9]; 8. 32-Chad Roush [5]; 9. 89W-Rick Weitekamp [11]; 10. 11M-Tyler Morehouse [10]; 11. 176-Scotty Owens [4]; 12. 47-Collin Thirlby [12]

Heat #4 – Flight (B) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 12L-Lucas Lee [1]; 2. OOEH-Steve Arpin [2]; 3. 8A-Austin Holcombe [3]; 4. 23-Ryan Cripe [4]; 5. 2A-Matt Altiers [6]; 6. 9PG-Percy Gendreau [7]; 7. 22J-John Baker [10]; 8. A1-Gary Bentley [5]; 9. 57-Mark Grosvenor [8]; 10. O1-Earnie Woodard [9]; 11. 12M-David Moheng [11]

Heat #5 – Flight (C) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 2-Nick Hoffman [1]; 2. 18L-Michael Long [5]; 3. 49-Brian Ruhlman [2]; 4. 17X-Richard Michael [4]; 5. 31G-Stephen Pedulla [3]; 6. T9-Ryan Thomas [8]; 7. 81-Steve Axtell [11]; 8. 74-Mike Franklin [9]; 9. 20-Tyler Hendrix [12]; 10. 2J-Troy Johnson [6]; 11. 83-Brianna Robinson [10]; 12. 11-Jesse Rupe [7]

Heat #6 – Flight (C) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 35-David Stremme [1]; 2. 11J-Justin Haley [5]; 3. 67-Garret Stewart [4]; 4. 4T-Zeke McKenzie [3]; 5. O5-Dave Wietholder [7]; 6. 60-Shannon Fisk [10]; 7. 15-Joey Miller [2]; 8. 15B-Dave Baker [9]; 9. 59-Doug Stine [12]; 10. O2-Chris Cook [11]; 11. 463-Daniel Sanchez [8]; 12. 99-Hunt Gossum [6]

Heat #7 – Flight (D) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 12H-Jason Hughes [1]; 2. 7-Justin Allgaier [3]; 3. 77-Ray Bollinger [4]; 4. 51-Brandon Green [2]; 5. 25P-Robert Poole [7]; 6. 22T-Tony Anderson [8]; 7. 12-John McClure [9]; 8. 45H-Kyle Hammer [6]; 9. 97-Mitch Thomas [5]; 10. 88B-Chris Bolyard [10]; 11. 27S-Paul Schloss [12]; 12. 11Z-Rob Pitcher [11]

Heat #8 – Flight (D) (8 Laps) – Top 5 Transfer 1. 96M-Mike McKinney [1]; 2. 95-Michael Altobelli [6]; 3. 11H-Spencer Hughes [2]; 4. 17T-Tyler Evans [4]; 5. 22K-Dale Kelley [7]; 6. 4R-Ricky Thornton [8]; 7. 45-Johnny Broking [3]; 8. 21D-Danny Schwartz [9]; 9. 88S-Chris Smith [5]; 10. 7+7-Jeff Solinger [10]; 11. 27C-Billy Cevaal [11]

Last Chance Showdown 1 (10 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer 1. 9-Ken Schrader [1]; 2. 8S-Kyle Strickler [13]; 3. 6-Ryan Fowler [4]; 4. 24-Travis Dickson [8]; 5. 6B-Dave Baldwin [5]; 6. 8-David Pinkerton [11]; 7. 33-Ken Mihalik [12]; 8. 27-Tom Wakefield [10]; 9. 21-Taylor Cook [2]; 10. M41-Steve Maisel [3]; 11. 27G-Jason Garver [6]; 12. 44-KC Burdette [7]; 13. 72-Todd Neiheiser [9]; 14. 21S-Kenny Shaw [14]

Last Chance Showdown 2 (10 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer 1. A1-Gary Bentley [6]; 2. 32-Chad Roush [5]; 3. 11N-Gene Nicholas [1]; 4. 11M-Tyler Morehouse [9]; 5. 62E-Kim Edington [3]; 6. 9PG-Percy Gendreau [2]; 7. O1-Earnie Woodard [10]; 8. 57-Mark Grosvenor [8]; 9. 12M-David Moheng [12]; 10. 89W-Rick Weitekamp [7]; 11. 176-Scotty Owens [11]; 12. 22J-John Baker [4]; 13. 47-Collin Thirlby [13]

Last Chance Showdown 3 (10 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer 1. T9-Ryan Thomas [1]; 2. 15-Joey Miller [4]; 3. 81-Steve Axtell [3]; 4. 99-Hunt Gossum [14]; 5. 20-Tyler Hendrix [7]; 6. 463-Daniel Sanchez [12]; 7. 60-Shannon Fisk [2]; 8. 2J-Troy Johnson [9]; 9. 15B-Dave Baker [6]; 10. 74-Mike Franklin [5]; 11. 83-Brianna Robinson [11]; 12. O2-Chris Cook [10]; 13. 59-Doug Stine [8]; 14. 11-Jesse Rupe [13]

Last Chance Showdown 4 (10 Laps) – Top 2 Transfer 1. 45-Johnny Broking [4]; 2. 4R-Ricky Thornton [2]; 3. 45H-Kyle Hammer [5]; 4. 22T-Tony Anderson [1]; 5. 7+7-Jeff Solinger [10]; 6. 97-Mitch Thomas [7]; 7. 88S-Chris Smith [8]; 8. 12-John McClure [3]; 9. 88B-Chris Bolyard [9]; 10. 27C-Billy Cevaal [12]; 11. 27S-Paul Schloss [11]; 12. 21D-Danny Schwartz [6]; 13. 11Z-Rob Pitcher [13]

BACK FOR MORE: Steve Arpin Returns to UMP Modified Racing at Volusia with Longhorn by Loenbro

New racing venture, partnership with Longhorn bred relationship with McKinney and Nicely

For the first time since his accident in 2008, Steve Arpin will return to the seat of a DIRTcar UMP Modified this week in the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park.

The former DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion from Fort Frances, ON, won a record five-consecutive Features at Volusia in 2007, leading to his first event points title. A year later, he decided to leave the dirt track world behind to pursue other racing ventures after suffering severe burns when a water line came unhooked while on the track.

This year, Arpin makes his return to Volusia behind the wheel of a Longhorn Modified by Loenbro Motorsports, debuting his new #00eh against a deep field of UMP Modified talent as they race seven-straight nights, Feb. 2-8, in search of the Big Gator championship.

Twelve seasons away from the DIRTcar world has left Arpin longing to strap back into the seat of his own UMP Modified, and what better place to do it than on the 50th anniversary of Volusia’s biggest event.

“The time was coming regardless because this has been where my passion is from the get-go,” he said.

EXPLORING HIS PASSION

Since his debut in 2013, Arpin has become a household name in the Rallycross world, competing internationally in events under several sanctioning bodies and the X Games. Several seasons of success on the circuit have quenched his thirst for thrills, but his passion for the dirt track has never been a dying flame.

“When I got into Rallycross, I was actually in Brazil racing, right after the X Games, and I called my dad and said, ‘This is as much fun I’ve had since I was racing Dirt Modifieds.’ So that’s always been my benchmark for where my love in the sport is,” he said.

Arpin’s car for the 2007 DIRTcar Nationals (Rick Young Photo)

Like most of the nation’s top wheelmen, Arpin advanced through several levels of motorsports before seeing success on the big stage. Racing everything from go-karts, mini-sprints and even snowmobiles as a kid, Arpin got his first Modified start at the age of 15. Although he had raced (and won) at Volusia before, a 23-year-old Arpin came to Volusia in 2007 and made DIRTcar Nationals history with his record five-consecutive Feature wins – one that has since only been tied by Jared Landers in 2009.

His accident in the following year’s DIRTcar Nationals took him out for the better part of 2008. Then, in 2009, he cashed-in on an opportunity to drive in the ARCA Menard’s Series. Some great finishes there landed him a NASCAR Xfinity Series ride at JR Motorsports in 2010 before making starts for Turner Motorsports in both the Truck and Xfinity Series through the 2012 season.

Two seasons of Rallycross competition led Arpin to NASCAR team owner Chip Ganassi’s new Rallycross program for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Loenbro Motorsports proprietors Paul & Jon Leach were co-owners of the operation at the time and eventually took over the team’s assets after Ganassi’s disinvolvement in 2017.

NEW VENTURE

Arpin has been with Loenbro ever since and brought the Modified program into the mix in October of last year. Loenbro partnered with Longhorn Chassis to build cars at their shop in China Grove, NC, as well as Bilstein Shocks, to provide customers with their own take on the UMP Modified.

“For me, it was just all about the people,” Arpin said. “It wasn’t the plan going into 2020 that this is what we were going to be doing. I had a great opportunity to start building a relationship with Bilstein on lots of the other programs that we’re doing. Ultimately, those conversations just led to the Modified program.”

Bloom working at the Loenbro Shop

The Loenbro squad brings in several experienced professionals to the table, including those who have already worked with some of the division’s biggest names. Austin Bloom, who worked with multi-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Kyle Strickler, has helped the team with their Rally car program and is one of many on the frontlines of the Loenbro Modified fabrication efforts.

“It was about that group of people all collaborating all their strengths to build an awesome racecar,” Arpin said. “It’s all just a bunch of steel, you just need really good people to tell it what to do.”

TEAM LONGHORN

For every great car, there’s a great driver sitting behind the wheel, and Longhorn by Loenbro’s got quite a stacked lineup ready for to compete in the 50th DIRTcar Nationals and throughout the 2021 season.

Mike McKinney, of Plainfield, IL, suits up with a Loenbro Longhorn for the 2021 season after a solid year of competition in 2020 that saw him reach DIRTcar UMP Modified Victory Lane 19 times. The Magic Man has zero plans of scaling back on that number in 2021, and Longhorn by Loenbro is where he feels he has the best chance of continuing his success in the future.

“For me, it was kind of a business decision,” McKinney said. “This sport – it isn’t a hobby of mine; it isn’t something I do for fun. It’s something I take very seriously and want to be around for a long time.”

Like Loenbro, McKinney has built a professional relationship with the folks at Bilstein Shocks, which also aided in making the connection to Loenbro.

“For me, it’s a no-brainer with the support that Steve and the Loenbro guys are going to bring,” McKinney said. “I’ve worked really close with Bilstein Shocks, and they’re the primary shock on this car. To work directly with them on one chassis brand’s gonna help a lot.”

Outside the Loenbro Motorsports headquarters in China Grove, NC

Two-time and defending Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series champion Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, also stepped up to the plate with a Longhorn by Loenbro last fall and scored two big victories – one right at Volusia Speedway Park in the 7th annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial.

Nicely was introduced to Arpin and the opportunity to drive a Longhorn by Loenbro through his team’s new business partners, John & Scott Clippinger. Scott and Arpin are longtime racing friends and reconnected last year, settling on a plan for both John and Nicely to drive Loenbro Longhorns in 2021.

“This is a good opportunity for me to try and take my racing career to the next level,” Nicely said. “We’re all gunning to be in a Late Model, so we’re just surrounding ourselves with the right people and trying to make the next move in our racing careers.”

Both McKinney and Nicely spent several years with their former chassis brand Elite Chassis, owned and operated by two-time and defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion Nick Hoffman. Each won numerous races and are very pleased with the time they spent driving under the Elite banner. Their talks were mutually understanding, and all recognized that the switch was just the next step in each of their racing careers.

“I talked with Nick and he understands the people I’m involved with, Bilstein and them,” McKinney said. “He understands it as well, to be in this sport, you’ve got to surround yourself with the right people and the right help. Nick’s been my buddy well before he was building Modifieds, and he’s going to continue being my buddy.”

“I still consider Nick one of my best friends,” Nicely said. “If it wasn’t for Nick, my name probably wouldn’t have been a bigger name in the Modifieds. He’s helped me tremendously.”

2021 READY

Back at the shop, Arpin and the Loenbro group have some big plans for 2021 and beyond. In addition to continuing the Rallycross ventures, Arpin and Loenbro plan on producing their Longhorn chassis under multiple different rules packages for the different sanctioning bodies across the country. But there’s a reason why they’re starting 2021 racing with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds.

Inside the Loenbro Motorsports headquarters in China Grove, NC

 “It’s where the technology is,” Arpin said. “It’s been fascinating watching Hoffman and [David] Stremme do what they’ve done with their cars. The Lethal [Chassis] and the Elites – they’re good cars.

“To have the opportunity to come out and compete with those guys… I feel like they’re at the top of their game, and if you want to be the best, you’ve got to race against the best.”

The events that are yet to unfold for Arpin as he makes his return to DIRTcar UMP Modified racing in 2021 are as good as anyone’s guess. But one thing’s for sure – he’s proud of where he’s been, and has the utmost confidence in his team to help him reach new heights.

“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in my Modified career, but I’ve been gone for a long time,” Arpin said. “For the likes of Justin Labonte and everyone at Longhorn to have the confidence in me to take this over… it’s truly one of the highlights of my career.”

Be on the lookout for Arpin as he takes on a full week of DIRTcar UMP Modified racing in the 50th DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-8. McKinney, Nicely, Hoffman, Stremme and more will be on the track; catch all the action live on DIRTVision!

CHASSIS WARS: Top DIRTcar UMP Modified Chassis Builders Ready for Battle at Volusia

Drivers hit Volusia Speedway Park for seven-straight nights, Feb. 2-8, in 50th DIRTcar Nationals

Volusia Speedway Park will be the latest battleground of a chassis war among the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds during the 50th DIRTcar Nationals.

Elite Chassis and Lethal Chassis have been among the most successful brands in recent UMP Modified history — accounting for 48 percent of all Feature wins recorded by the top-10 drivers in 2020 national points. But in 2021, a new challenger will look to end their reign.

October 2020 brought forth the formation of Longhorn Modifieds by Loenbro Motorsports into the DIRTcar realm, featuring the 2007 DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion Steve Arpin and Longhorn Chassis proprietor Justin Labonte joining forces to start the production of Loenbro-unique chassis from within their shop in China Grove, NC. The brand immediately recruited several big-name drivers to their lineup, including a few of Elite’s biggest names.

Strickler (middle) in Victory Lane at The Dirt Track at Charlotte at the 2020 Drydene World Short Track Championship with runner-up Chris Arnold (right) and third-place Nick Hoffman (left) [Michael Boggs Photo]
Longhorn by Loenbro made its first on-track appearance in the Drydene World Short Track Championship at The Dirt Track at Charlotte with 8-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Kyle Strickler at the controls. A $4,000 Feature win Saturday night verified the brand’s projected competitiveness and gave a glimpse into the future of the battle forming between Elite and Longhorn.

Two-time and defending Summit Racing Equipment American Modified Series champion Tyler Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, took the checkered flag in last November’s Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial at Volusia, besting Elite Chassis owner/fabricator Nick Hoffman and NASCAR regular Justin Allgaier in a 50-lap, $5,000-to-win throwdown. Hoffman and Allgaier drove their Elite Chassis to a 2-3 finish Saturday’s night main event, but could not catch Nicely, a former Elite pilot, making his debut in a brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro.

Their next heavyweight bout went down the very next weekend at 411 Motor Speedway in Seymour, TN, where Nicely took his Loenbro Longhorn to Victory Lane on Friday night with Allgaier and Hoffman again finishing 2-3. But Saturday night was Hoffman’s turn to get one for Elite, besting Nicely over 25 laps to keep the friendly rivalry going.

While their competitiveness was on full display in the fall of last season, the Loenbro Longhorns will face some decorated Elite and Lethal drivers at Volusia come February.

Hoffman posing with his 2020 DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship trophy (Josh James Photo)

Hoffman, the two-time and defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion, has left Volusia in each of the last five DIRTcar Nationals with the Big Gator trophy and a total of 16 Feature wins in the event since his first in 2012. His triumph in 2020 kicked off one of the most dominant seasons in Elite’s history, featuring four of the top 10 drivers in DIRTcar UMP Modified national points standings at season’s end driving Elite Chassis – himself, Mike McKinney, Will Krup and Hunt Gossum. All four combined for 61 total Feature victories in DIRTcar-sanctioned competition.

Former NASCAR veteran David Stremme founded Lethal Chassis in 2014, serving several big names in the UMP Modified community that always bring tough competition into the state of Florida.

Stremme himself has two career DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins. Spencer Hughes pulled off a thrilling victory in last year’s Gator Championship on Monday night, passing Jason Hughes (no relation) on the final lap to bag the $5,000 prize. NASCAR Xfinity Series star Justin Haley scored his first DIRTcar Nationals victory in 2019, as did Michigan’s Curt Spalding last year. Floridian Modified veteran Devin Dixon and North Carolina’s Austin Holcombe are also projected to join Lethal’s roster at Volusia in 2021.

The 50th DIRTcar Nationals will feature a stacked lineup from Elite, including the regulars Hoffman, Allgaier and Krup. Kenny Wallace, who switched to Elite last fall, makes his first Elite starts at Volusia this year. Garret Stewart, Volusia’s winningest driver in 2020, and Kyle Hammer, the Illinoisan making his first trip south for Florida Speedweeks this year, also bring Elites for 2021.

Stremme in his Lethal Chassis at The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Melanie Cherry Photo, 2020)

Longhorn by Loenbro will also bring a stellar lineup to Volusia in February, including Nicely and Strickler. Arpin will make his return to the seat of a UMP Modified for the first time since 2008, alongside Floridian Modified veteran Jeff Mathews. Plainfield, IL-wheelman Mike McKinney will also be making his very first trip south to compete at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals behind the wheel of a Longhorn after spending all eight of his first UMP Modified seasons with Elite, finishing second only to Hoffman in 2020 national points.

The rosters for each side are set. Every driver knows the score. When the teams pull into Volusia to compete for seven-straight nights, the gloves will come off in search of dirt racing’s most prized trophies. There’s no telling what kind of history will be made in the 50th edition of DIRTcar Nationals when the ironmen hit the track.

Don’t miss the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds in action at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-8. Tickets are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com or by calling 844-DIRT-TIX. If you can’t make it to the track, watch all the action live from the comfort of your home with a Platinum Fast Pass subscription to DIRTVision!

THE BIG 5-O: Ironmen UMP Modified Drivers Take on 50th DIRTcar Nationals Feb. 2-8, 2021

New stars Hoffman, Nicely set to battle with veterans Wallace, Stremme and others

Jan. 6, 2021 – The DIRTcar UMP Modifieds have long been known as the “Ironmen” of the DIRTcar Nationals.

For the past several years of the iconic Florida event, they’ve competed the first seven nights alongside the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series and World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series.

When the stout field rolls into Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 2-8 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the event, one hand will point to the division’s future stars while the other reaches back on the history books. Some of the division’s most exciting points chases and storylines have been produced over the past 15 years, featuring a slew of instantly recognizable names.

Rick Young Photo (2007)

The 2007 DIRTcar Nationals was headlined with the success of one young Canadian, who ushered in a new level of dominance not previously seen in DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified history. Twenty-three-year-old Steve Arpin, of Fort Frances, ON, brought his Larry Shaw Race Cars #00 into the facility and made his mark on history, winning an incredible five consecutive Features in seven nights to earn his first DIRTcar Nationals championship. It seemed as though Arpin would hold this record forever, until one man sparked a legacy of his own the following year.

When Arpin was seriously injured at Volusia in February 2008, the door swung open for another driver to step up to the plate. Jared Landers, of Batesville, AR, won two Features that year, setting him up for a memorable run in 2009 where he won five non-consecutive Features over seven nights of racing, tying Arpin’s record and crowning him DIRTcar Nationals champion for the first time in his career.

The next four years didn’t see quite the level of dominance brought on by Arpin and Landers but was made up for with a diverse group of Feature winners and champions.

Present-day Late Model veteran Dave Hess Jr., of Waterford, PA, won two Features en route to his Golden Eagle trophy in 2010, one year before Emporia, KS’s own Clint Bowyer led the charge of NASCAR-driven success at the event.

Bowyer won three Features on his way to a Golden Eagle in 2011, paving the way for fellow Richard Childress Racing teammates Ty and Austin Dillon’s three newly styled Big Gator championship trophies, collected from 2012-2015. The brothers won a combined 12 DIRTcar Nationals Features over that period, missing out on only the 2013 points championship to another NASCAR legend, Kenny Schrader.

While Austin hoisted his first Big Gator in 2015 with Ty finishing just 10 points behind in third, one driver stood between them in the points that year.

Belleville, IL-born Nick Hoffman, now residing in Mooresville, NC, has since been the one man to beat when it comes to the UMP Modifieds at the DIRTcar Nationals. He and his blue/orange Elite Chassis #2 have been tearing up Volusia in February for the past five years, winning 13 Features and five consecutive Big Gator trophies from 2016-2020.

Hoffman (2) and David Stremme (35) racing for position in the 2020 DIRTcar Nationals (Rick Neff Photo)

Armed with his second consecutive DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals championship and DIRTcar UMP Modified national championship honors that 2020 brought him, 2021 is looking brighter than ever for the reigning Big Gator champion to repeat at Volusia.

Of course, several big-name contenders in the division will be gunning for their right to hoist the Big Gator trophy as well, including former NASCAR stars David Stremme, Kenny Wallace and 2020 Reutimann Memorial winner Tyler Nicely.

Tickets for the 50th annual DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 2-13, are on sale now at DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t make it to the track, be sure to tune into DIRTVision to watch all the action live from the comfort of your home!

Previous UMP Modified Feature Winners
February 10, 2020 – Spencer Hughes
February 9, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 8, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 7, 2020 – Curt Spalding, Jason Beaulieu, Christian Thomas, David Reutimann
February 6, 2020 – Nick Hoffman
February 5, 2020 – Kyle Strickler
February 4, 2020 – Michael Long
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 — Kyle Strickler
February 11th, 2019 —Lucas Lee
February 8th, 2019 — R.C. Whitwell, Justin Haley, Gordy Gundaker, Brandon Green, Jesse Rupe
February 7th, 2019 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2019 — Taylor Cook
February 5th, 2019 — Michael Long
February 11th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2018 — Tyler Nicely
February 9th, 2018 — Kyle Strickler, Tyler Nicely, Frank Paladino, Larry Mott
February 8th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 7th, 2018 — Nick Hoffman
February 6th, 2018 — David Stremme
February 21st, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins, Jonathan Taylor, J.E. Stalder
February 20th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2017 — Will Krup
February 17th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2017 — Brian Ruhlman
February 15th, 2017 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2017 — Jacob Hawkins
February 16th, 2016 — Derrick Ramey, Justin Allgaier, Ray Bollinger
February 15th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 14th, 2016 — Brian Ruhlman
February 13th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2016 — Trent Young
February 11th, 2016 — Tyler Nicely
February 10th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 9th, 2016 — Nick Hoffman
February 16th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2015 — Nick Hoffman
February 13th, 2015 — Ty Dillon
February 12th, 2015 — David Stremme
February 11th, 2015 — Kyle Strickler
February 10th, 2015 — Austin Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 18th, 2014 — Joel Ortberg
February 17th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2014 — Austin Dillon
February 15th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 14th, 2014 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2014 — Kyle Bronson
February 11th, 2014 — Kyle Strickler
February 19th, 2013 — Ty Dillon
February 19th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 19th, 2013 — Jason Zimmer
February 18th, 2013 — Ken Schrader
February 17th, 2013 — Matt Westfall
February 16th, 2013 — Jacob Poel
February 15th, 2013 — Nick Hoffman
February 12th, 2013 — Rodney Sanders
February 21st, 2012 — Austin Dillon
February 21st, 2012 — Mike Wedelstadt
February 21st, 2012 — Tyler Carpenter
February 20th, 2012 — Nick Hoffman
February 19th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 18th, 2012 — Chad Kinder
February 17th, 2012 — Ty Dillon
February 16th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 15th, 2012 — Kenny Wallace
February 14th, 2012 — Dale Mathison
February 15th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 15th, 2011 — Kenny Schrader
February 15th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 14th, 2011 — Ty Dillon
February 13th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 12th, 2011 — Richie Tosh
February 11th, 2011 — Ryan Gustin
February 10th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 9th, 2011 — Clint Bowyer
February 8th, 2011 — Austin Dillon
February 8th, 2010 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2010 — Austin Dillon
February 6th, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 4th, 2010 — David McWilliams
February 3rd, 2010 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 10th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 9th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 8th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2009 — Randy Hall
February 6th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 5th, 2009 — Austin Dillon
February 4th, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 3rd, 2009 — Jared Landers
February 11th, 2008 — Dave Groves
February 10th, 2008 — Tim Hancock
February 9th, 2008 — Dave Hess, Jr.
February 8th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 7th, 2008 — Jared Landers
February 6th, 2008 — Scott Drake
February 5th, 2008 — Jesse Stovall
February 12th, 2007 — Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 10th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 9th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 8th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 7th, 2007 — Steve Arpin
February 6th, 2007 — Kenny Wallace
February 12th, 2006 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 9th, 2006 – Duke Whiseant
February 8th, 2006 – Chad Ohnsted
February 7th, 2006 – Craig Thatcher
February 6th, 2006 – Blake Jetvig
February 14th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 13th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 12th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 11th, 2005 – Joey Kramer
February 10th, 2005 – Craig Thatcher
February 9th, 2005 – Steve Arpin

Reutimanns Remembered

Tonight was all about the Reutimann family and specifically remembering the lives of Emil and Dale Reutimann. With Buzzie and David already in the race, all that was left to run were a couple of Last Chance Showdowns and then onto the 50-lap main event.

The night’s opening ceremonies celebrated Emil and Dale’s memory on the stage of the front stretch and then went straight into a redraw that put Devin Dixon on the pole for the Feature. Before this could be run a pair of Last Chance Showdowns determined who else was in and who was going home.

The first Last Chance Showdown got off to a rough start with three straight cautions. Finally, on the fourth attempt, pole-sitter and eventual race winner Kenny Wallace led the field to a string of green flag laps. Three more cautions came out and when the final checkers flew Kenny Wallace, Jason Garver, and Todd Neiheiser transferred to the Feature.

The second Showdown saw the No. 1S of Brian Shaw making big moves to come to the front after an 11th place start. Shaw came all the way to third, finishing behind the winner, Brandon Wells, and second place Eric Moon to punch their tickets to the big show later in the evening.

The 50-lap Feature event left seats unused for the first portion of the race. From the driver introductions on the front stretch, to the four-wide salute, this show kept fans on their feet.
Pole-sitter Devin Dixon led the opening laps but by lap 22 had lap times slowing while other drivers were surging forward. Just before halfway Tyler Nicely once again found himself leading a race as lapped traffic issues slowed Dixon, allowing Nicely to catch him and make the pass. This pass cost Dixon an extra $500 as Nicely won the halfway leader award and banked an additional $500.00 on the weekend.

As the laps rolled on it was clear once again Nicely had the car to beat. Though Justin Allgaier was able to get past him a couple of times Nicely was able to gathered it up and find a way back to the lead. When Nick Hoffman joined the battle late in the race it looked as if he may have had a little something for the leader, but it wasn’t to be as Nicely went on to take the win and bank another $5,000.00 on top of his already bountiful weekend earnings. Allgaier came in second, and Hoffman brought it home in third. Rich Pratt took the Hard Charger award, worth $250.00.

The SS Shan Smith Sails to Another Victory

The Florida Late Models were back for another round at Volusia Speedway Park this weekend. The 27-car field started the first of three Heat races with a familiar face out front. 12-year-old Trey Mills won Heat one and looked to be the car to beat once more. He was followed in second by last night’s Thunder Stock winner, Jared Allison. Heats two and three were similar affairs with Nevin Gainey and Jeff Choquette taking wins.

The 17SS of Smith started on the outside pole and never looked back in the Feature. Choquette mounted several challenges after cautions closed the gap but was unable to take away Smith’s position. Smith went on to win and bank $1500.00, while Choquette settled for second.

Taking Home the Lyon’s Share of the Prize Money

Patrick Lyon’s #01 Street Stock isn’t only a good looking car, but a very fast one too. His competitors learned this the hard way tonight as Lyon ran away in his Heat race and continued the trend in the Feature. Shane Nichols and Joe Belkey both had brief stints out front, but when all was said and done the Lyon couldn’t be tamed and he went on to win and collect $750.00 for his night’s work.

Up Next at Volusia Speedway Park

Saturday, December 5th : Volusia Car Races
Saturday, December 12th: Volusia Karting

LITTLE 2, BIG 5K: Nicely Scores First Career Reutimann Memorial Victory at Volusia

Nicely’s Longhorn by Loenbro Chassis wins in first weekend out, Elite Chassis finish 2-3

BARBERVILLE, FL – Nov. 21, 2020 – When Tyler Nicely and his team loaded up after their testing session earlier this week, he knew he had a car he could take to Volusia Speedway Park and contend for his first Reutimann Memorial Feature victory.

Not only did Nicely, of Owensboro, KY, and his new Longhorn by Loenbro Chassis score the victory in the 7th annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial, he showed consistent strength in the new car throughout the weekend. Setting fast time and winning his Showdown Feature on Friday night set him up for a spot in the redraw on Saturday, where he took full advantage of his forward starting spot, leading 30 total laps en route to the $5,000 payday.

“I didn’t want to lose the race and I was going to do everything I could to win it,” Nicely said in Victory Lane. “I knew I just needed to get out in clean air and just dictate my own race. I knew we had a pretty good car early; I just knew I needed to make a smart move early to get to the lead.”

Starting from position #4 on the grid, Nicely showed speed right out of the gate, chasing down NASCAR standout Justin Allgaier, of Riverton, IL, and leader Devin Dixon, of Apollo Beach, FL, inside the first 10 laps. After an early caution, Nicely made the move around Allgaier for second and cracked the whip, gunning for leader Dixon’s rear bumper.

As Dixon worked his way around a slower car out of Turn 4 to complete Lap 21, he got a bit too wide out of the groove and the door opened for Nicely to his inside. Nicely threw it hard into Turn 1, slid up the track and took the lead away.

Dixon came back at him with a slide job of his own a few laps later, but the non-existent cushion up top threw him wide once again as Nicely drove back by. Dixon was able to grab the lead back briefly on Lap 27 after Nicely slipped high in Turn 2, but lost it again as Nicely threw a big slide job on he and Allgaier on a restart just one lap later.

Dave Shank Photo

Then came the opening Allgaier had been waiting for. Nicely slipped way high again in Turn 1 on Lap 35 as Allgaier jumped through the open door. Nicely recovered quickly though, throwing yet another slider for the lead as they came back around to Turn 1.

“We got the lead there and then Tyler slid me down in [Turn] 1,” Allgaier said. “I didn’t know if he was going to make 1 and 2 or not, so I jumped out of it. I wish, in hindsight, I’d have stayed in it.”

Allgaier’s presence out front seemed to spark a fire under Nicely’s seat. He dropped the hammer on the high side and never relinquished the lead again, fending off Allgaier and fellow Elite Chassis pilot Nick Hoffman’s surge for the front in the final laps.

Hoffman, the five-time DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion at Volusia, took a shot at Allgaier with five-to-go for the runner-up spot, but was unable to hold the car down in Turn 1 and gave the spot right back as he washed-up the track.

“Justin had a way better racecar, so once he showed me a nose, I just let him go back by; the only shot for Elite Chassis to win tonight,” Hoffman said.

Dave Shank Photo

The Elite cars brought the heat after one final restart in the home stretch but couldn’t get a big enough run in either groove to threaten for the lead. Nicely was too fast on the top side and brought the field back around to the checkers to score his first career Reutimann Memorial victory.

“I kinda liked getting that caution with six to go, just because that took the lapped cars out of it; that’s how I got passed for the lead when we got into lapped traffic,” Nicely said.

Allgaier crossed the stripe in second – now his best career finish in the event. He was the only driver that kept it inside the podium for all 50 laps, despite his feelings on how the race began for him.

“In the beginning there, I struggled to get a line that really worked for me. Once we figured that out, I was able to make up some time,” Allgaier said.

Hoffman rounded out the podium in third, crossing by a slim margin over Justin Haley and Austin Holcombe. His newly-built Elite Chassis was quite the hot rod in the latter half of the race, but ultimately came up one spot shy of tying his personal best finish in the event (second, 2018).

“At the middle of the race, I kinda got my motor too hot and kinda cruised for a little bit; I wanted to cruise anyway. Once it was time to go, I was able to cool it down and really hustle,” Hoffman said.

7th Annual Reutimann Memorial Feature RESULTS (50 Laps)
1. 25-Tyler Nicely[4]; 2. 7-Justin Allgaier[3]; 3. 2-Nick Hoffman[6]; 4. 11-Justin Haley[12]; 5. 8A-Austin Holcombe[9]; 6. 35-David Stremme[13]; 7. 67-Garrett Stewart[7]; 8. 13P-Rich Pratt[19]; 9. 313-Devin Dixon[1]; 10. 36-Kenny Wallace[21]; 11. 7G-Seth Geary[18]; 12. 99W-Chris Arnold[17]; 13. 33-Jeff Matthews[2]; 14. 18-Eric Moon[24]; 15. 4-Maverick Varnadore[5]; 16. 205-Travis Vanadore[16]; 17. 80-Rich Dawson[8]; 18. 2J-Troy Johnson[14]; 19. 1-Steve Stevenson[11]; 20. 33K-Kenny Mihalik[27]; 21. 00-Buzzie Reutimann[20]; 22. 1S-Brian Shaw[26]; 23. 00D-David Reutimann[10]; 24. 6-Ryan Ayers[15]; 25. 72-Todd Neiheiser[25]; 26. 39W-Brandon Wells[22]; 27. 80P-Paul Shead[28]; 28. 27-Jason Garver[23]

UMP Mod Last Chance Showdown 1 (15 Laps)
1. 36-Kenny Wallace[1]; 2. 27-Jason Garver[9]; 3. 72-Todd Neiheiser[13]; 4. 14D-David Taylor[3]; 5. M20-Mike Petoskey[2]; 6. 1SJ-Josh Sanford[4]; 7. 80P-Paul Shead[10]; 8. 73-Mark Rhoades[16]; 9. 7N7-Jeff Solinger[12]; 10. 40-Shawn Reiss[7]; 11. 1R-Ryan Rackley[11]; 12. 57-Mark Grosvenor[6]; 13. 11R-Jesse Rupe[5]; 14. 33K-Kenny Mihalik[8]; 15. 96-Cole Parker[14]; 16. (DNS) 32-Bruce Martin

UMP Mod Last Chance Showdown 2 (15 Laps)
1. 39W-Brandon Wells[2]; 2. 18-Eric Moon[13]; 3. 1S-Brian Shaw[11]; 4. 11Z-Zane Oedewaldt[4]; 5. 17-Patrick Vareika[10]; 6. 17G-Brandon Grossman[1]; 7. Z06-Larry Mott[7]; 8. 141-Justin Galbreath[3]; 9. 21-Sean Monaghan[6]; 10. 62E-Kim Edington[5]; 11. 3C-Tony Campbell[9]; 12. 27S-Paul Schloss[14]; 13. 2D-Ray Durrence Jr[8]; 14. (DNS) 10-Dustin Thayer

SUNSHINE SHOWDOWNS: Allgaier, Dixon, Nicely, Mathews Win Reutimann Memorial Prelim Features at Volusia

Twenty drivers now locked into Saturday’s 50-lap, $5,000-to-win main event

BARBERVILLE, FL – Nov. 20, 2020 – Fifty-two of the best DIRTcar UMP Modified drivers in the country assembled at the Volusia Speedway Park Friday night for the preliminary night of action at the 7th annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial. Twenty names have since punched their ticket into Saturday’s $5,000-to-win main event.

Four 15-lap Showdown Features hit the track after two groups of Qualifying, locking the top-five finishers into Saturday’s Feature and taking the top-two into the redraw.

Showdown Feature #1 – Justin Allgaier

He hasn’t been able to drive his Federated Auto Parts #7 Elite Chassis as much as he would have liked to in 2020, but Justin Allgaier looked as if he had been in the car all season Friday night with a flag-to-flag victory in the first Showdown Feature.

Grabbing the lead into Turn 1 from the outside pole on the opening lap, Allgaier fought off all challengers from behind, including his chassis builder and 2020 DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion Nick Hoffman, for the $500 victory.

Hoffman held on for second, sending both he and Allgaier to the redraw. Also transferring into the Feature were Austin Holcombe, David Stremme and Chris Arnold.

Allgaier’s been steadily working on his dirt program recently and said he feels very comfortable with the car and the crew working tirelessly behind him. Hoffman’s been in his car for most of the season and has provided both he and Allgaier with a great opportunity to pick up the big $5,000 victory Saturday night.

“Well, tomorrow’s 50 laps, tonight was only 15,” Allgaier said of his outlook to Saturday. “I’ve got to not make a mistake. There’s a lot of guys tonight that got caught-out by the track conditions in Qualifying. The conditions tonight suited my driving style really well. But if it gets slick tomorrow, which I think it will, Nick’s [Hoffman] gonna be incredible. I know it.”

UMP Modifieds Feature 1 (15 Laps) RESULTS

  1. 7-Justin Allgaier[2]; 2. 2-Nick Hoffman[3]; 3. 8A-Austin Holcombe[4]; 4. 35-David Stremme[6]; 5. 99W-Chris Arnold[1]; 6. 36-Kenny Wallace[8]; 7. 14D-David Taylor[5]; 8. 11R-Jesse Rupe[13]; 9. 40-Shawn Reiss[11]; 10. (DNF) 27-Jason Garver[9]; 11. (DNF) 1R-Ryan Rackley[7]; 12. (DNF) 72-Todd Neiheiser[10]; 13. (DNF) 32-Bruce Martin[12]

Showdown Feature #2 – Devin Dixon

Through the first half of the second Showdown Feature, it appeared as though the event’s Best Appearing Car Award winner Rich Dawson was going to drive away flawlessly for the win. But Apollo Beach, FL’s Devin Dixon had other plans.

Dawson won the battle into Turn 1 on the opening lap, but Dixon never let him out of sight. A restart five laps in gave Dixon the opportunity he needed to make the move, which he did to Dawson’s inside in Turn 1 after furiously reeling him in lap-by-lap.

“Once we got going there, [Dawson] took off pretty good and then he started fading a little bit the later the race went, and we started getting better. Down there into [Turn] 1, he jumped the cushion a little bit and I just slid him, and it was on from there,” Dixon said.

From that point forward, Dixon set it on cruise and was never challenged for the lead again as he drove across the stripe, punching his ticket to the redraw with runner-up Dawson. Steve Stevenson, Ryan Ayers and Rich Pratt also transferred to the 50-lap Feature.

UMP Modifieds Feature 2 (15 Laps) RESULTS

  1. 313-Devin Dixon[2]; 2. 80-Rich Dawson[1]; 3. 1-Steve Stevenson[3]; 4. 6-Ryan Ayers[6]; 5. 13P-Rich Pratt[8]; 6. M20-Mike Petoskey[7]; 7. 1SJ-Josh Sanford[9]; 8. 57-Mark Grosvenor[12]; 9. 33K-Kenny Mihalik[5]; 10. 80P-Paul Shead[10]; 11. 7N7-Jeff Solinger[11]; 12. (DNF) 96-Cole Parker[4]; 13. (DNF) 73-Mark Rhoades[13]

Showdown Feature #3 – Tyler Nicely

For the first weekend out in a brand-new car, Tyler Nicley’s certainly gotten off to a great start.

After laying down the night’s fastest lap in Qualifying of 18.740, a $250 cash prize courtesy of the Reutimann family, Nicely grabbed the lead from the pole of the third Showdown Feature and never once even thought about giving it up. The Owensboro, KY-native led every single lap en route to the redraw and $500 prize with runner-up Maverick Varnadore.

Even when he proved a green-white-checkered finish could not throw him off of his game, at the end of the day, Nicely was still looking for more speed.

“We weren’t as good as we wanted to be in that Feature,” Nicely said. “Just tried to get the car to work well on the bottom and rotating. Tomorrow night will be different, 50 laps. Hopefully the track slows down a lot and we get a good redraw.”

Also transferring into the 50-lap Feature was two-time event winner David Reutimann, Troy Johnson and Seth Geary.

UMP Modifieds Feature 3 (15 Laps) RESULTS

  1. 25-Tyler Nicely[1]; 2. 4-Maverick Varnadore[4]; 3. 00D-David Reutimann[2]; 4. 2J-Troy Johnson[3]; 5. 7G-Seth Geary[6]; 6. 17G-Brandon Grossman[7]; 7. 141-Justin Galbreath[8]; 8. 99-Ronnie Chance[9]; 9. 62E-Kim Edington[12]; 10. 206-Larry Mott[10]; 11. 3C-Tony Campbell[13]; 12. 1S-Brian Shaw[11]; 13. 18-Eric Moon[5]

Showdown Feature #4 – Jeff Mathews

The 2017 Reutimann Memorial Feature winner had absolutely no problem putting himself in position to win it a second time Friday night. Jeff Mathews did just that with a flag-to-flag victory in the fourth and final Showdown Feature.

Mathews took the lead at the drop of the green and never looked back, leading every lap en route to the $500 victory and a spot in the redraw with runner-up Garrett Stewart.

Even the restarts Mathews faced along the way could not slow his momentum. But he knows Saturday is the big one, and he’ll have to be extra prepared to be there at the end of 50 laps.

“We didn’t really know which direction we wanted to go, if we wanted to be getting tighter or freeing-up, or trying to stay neutral,” Mathews said of his car setup. “I think we made the right call, but tomorrow’s a whole different ball game. We’ve got 50 laps, and I don’t think we’ll have this type of racetrack tomorrow night.”

Justin Haley, Travis Vanadore and Buzzie Reutimann also transferred into the Feature. Reutimann, the 79-year-old racing legend from Zephyrhills, FL, was perhaps the biggest star of the entire show when he was spun sideways about halfway through the race, gathered it back in on the restart and hung on to the fifth and final transfer spot to punch his ticket into the big show.

UMP Modifieds Feature 4 (15 Laps) RESULTS

  1. 33-Jeff Matthews[1]; 2. 67-Garrett Stewart[2]; 3. 11-Justin Haley[3]; 4. 205-Travis Vanadore[7]; 5. 00-Buzzie Reutimann[5]; 6. 24B-Dillon Buhr[4]; 7. 39W-Brandon Wells[6]; 8. 11Z-Zane Oedewaldt[8]; 9. 21-Sean Monaghan[11]; 10. 2D-Ray Durrence Jr[10]; 11. 17-Patrick Vareika[12]; 12. (DNF) 10-Dustin Thayer[9]; 13. (DNF) 27S-Paul Schloss[13]

UP NEXT

The Reutimann Memorial action continues Saturday evening for the DIRTcar UMP the Modifieds, beginning with the redraw, Last Chance events and closing with the 50-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature. Catch all the action LIVE on DIRTVision!

Nicely Done

Night one of the Emil and Dale Reutimann Memorial started off with some sprinkles, but it surely didn’t dampen the spirits of the racers who traveled from several different states to be a part of this event.

The racing kicked off with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds taking the track for their Hot Laps/Qualifying. Three flights of cars went after the bonus money for the Fast Time, and when all was said and done Tyler Nicely topped the field with his lap of 18.740, banking $250.00 before the features ever got under way.

Other special awards, such as the longest haul, were awarded during the opening ceremonies following Qualifying. Mark Rhoades, who towed from West Chicago, Illinois, took home $500.00 for his long haul, Rich Dawson took home $250.00 for the best appearing car, and Qualifiers 2-4 also took home a little extra cash.

When it came time for the four Showdown Features, there was more than just a $500.00 check on the line. Only the top five transferred, leaving many to run Saturday’s Last Chance Showdown to try to gain a spot in the field. Justin Allgaier won the first Showdown with contenders like Stremme and Hoffman filling transfer spots. Kenny Wallace ran a strong sixth, but with only five transferring he will have to try again tomorrow to make the field.

In Showdown number two Devin Dixon punched his ticket to the big show with local drivers like Rich Pratt gained a spot in the field as well. Mark Rhoades, the longest haul winner, will have another long road ahead as he finished 13th and will have to come from the back tomorrow to earn a spot in the field.

Showdown number three saw fast qualifier Tyler Nicely getting the job done again, holding off an early charge from David Reutimann and a late-race effort from Mark Varnadore to score the win and take home another $500.00, bringing his bank role to $750.00 on the night leading up to the big race and making it known he is the man to beat this weekend.

In the fourth and final Showdown, local hot shoe Garrett Stewart squared off against Jeff Matthews, with Matthews taking the win and Stewart a close second. Fan favorite Buzzie Reutimann raced his way into the big show with a fifth place finish, holding off Dillon Buhr for the final transfer spot.

Clay leads the way

The 602 Late Models were back in action this weekend with a 21-car field. Clay Harris, whose night started off on a bad note with engine problems in his modified, made the most of things, winning his heat race and leading every lap of the Feature with lap times nearly a half-second faster than his nearest competitors. With just he and a single crew member with him tonight, Harris scored a big victory for the Wilkerson Farms-sponsored ride.

Mikey Kopka, who won  his Heat race, ran strong all night, but late race issues would lead to an 11th place finish, while Dustin Carter moved up to finish second. Last weeks winner, Trey Mills ran an impressive third, swapping positions back and fourth with the best in the business. Other notable drivers like Jackson Hise had a disappointing night as a right front flat tire dropped him to the back of the field and he later had to pit again with car trouble.

One for One in Thunder Stocks

Jared Allison had never driven a Thunder Stock before tonight, but that didn’t stop the Late Model driver from jumping in the car and giving it a shot. He finished third in his Heat and start sixth in the Feature behind cars most would bet on to win. Boome Canary won his Heat and led a good part of the Feature before car troubles took him out of contention, and Jason Garver proved duct tape numbers don’t mean you aren’t going to be fast are always hard to run with, let alone beat.

Allison battled early with veteran Kevin Durden for position, eventually finding his way to the lead on lap ten. In a race that saw cars on top of cars, lead cars making mistakes and taking cars with them when they went, and utter chaos at times, Allison picked and clawed his way to the front and is now one-for-one in his Thunder Stock racing career.

Looking Forward

Saturday is the Emil And Dale Reutimann Memorial. Hot laps start at 5:45 with racing to follow. It will be a big night of racing with a 50 lapper, Last Chance Showdown, and Street Stocks along with Florida Late Models on hand to round out the show. Watch every lap LIVE on DIRTVision.